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Gaming 101: How we die—player punishment in video games

CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄ƷDer Millionendorf- Icrontian
edited Aug 2010 in Gaming

Comments

  • MAGICMAGIC Doot Doot Furniture City, Michigan Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    Back in EQ you a death resulted in experience debt. They would double the amount of experience it took towards the next level for the next x%.

    This was harsh if you got stuck in a tough spot that took 3-4 deaths to train out of. Might take an entire day to work off the debted experience.
  • TiberiusLazarusTiberiusLazarus Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    I remember the long hours I put into older adventure games such as King's Quest (II comes to mind most specifically). The game was quite large for its time. Not only was there a lot to do, but it had that level of punishment that existed only in early adventure games. Did I get frustrated by it? Of course. Did I push through it? You're damn right I did.

    This trend of taking away punishments has made us soft. I know if I come across a game anymore that doesn't let me save or quick save whenever I want and I come to a difficult section I get incredibly annoyed at the developers for not implementing this. I don't stop to think that just a few years back I would have accepted the challenge. I would have pushed myself until I was able to progress beyond whatever the challenge was. Instead I whine and complain and bitch and moan, and I don't like that this has become the norm.
  • UPSLynxUPSLynx :KAPPA: Redwood City, CA Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    So, fighting game punishment took a nosedive in 2004? hmmm... I guess we either blame Soul Caliber 2 or Def Jam.

    Great read, CB.
  • KoreishKoreish I'm a penguin, deal with it. KCMO Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    I like how strategy is completely level.
  • UPSLynxUPSLynx :KAPPA: Redwood City, CA Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    I keep thinking about whether or not punishment SHOULD be required.

    A great example of why it should be implemented is Bioshock. In that game, if you die, you respawn at a nearby respawn chamber, and you jump right back into the game. There is no penalty. This means, if you're fighting a big daddy or something else particularly large (heck, even the final boss), you can respawn and continue to fight, and they retain their health from where it was when you died. There is no way to loose. It removes the fear. You just stand there and attack until you die, come back, and do it over again.

    I think punishment should play a role in all games.
  • CantiCanti =/= smalltime http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9K18CGEeiI&feature=related Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    Oddly enough your comment about respawns in Bioshock made me remember how one of my favorite NES games was about the same way. In Guerilla War you had a set number of lives and when you lost them all a screen would come up asking if you want to continue. Pick yes and you get 5 more Che Guevaras or Fidel Castros (depending on if you're player 1 or 2) and you start back at the same spot you died in. I hated the respawn thing in Bioshock but loved it in Guerilla War even though they're basically the same mechanic. I wonder if this has to do with the age difference between when I played each or if it's because instant respawn in the late 80s was an unusual and welcome change from the unforgiving difficulty of most other games at the time, while today it's more common and takes away from a sense of accomplishment.
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited Jul 2010
    Some games death should be punishing and in others it seems pointless. Plus it really depends on how much time you can sit down and play. If I only have 15 minutes to kill I can actually play a game that has frequent save points or the ability to save whenever. If I die, I still get something out of it.

    However if the game requires a massive investment of time between the ability to save, like say you must clear a full level first. Well then typically I don't find myself playing those games anymore.

    Plus on a console it's often easy enough to just shut off the machine if you are a type of person that doesn't like losing which mitigates the point of death penalties for non-persistent world games.
  • CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Der Millionendorf- Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    UPSLynx wrote:
    So, fighting game punishment took a nosedive in 2004? hmmm... I guess we either blame Soul Caliber 2 or Def Jam.

    Great read, CB.

    I know it's hard to read, but the line with the drastic nosedive in 2004-2005 is the Adventure game genre, and is attributed to TellTale games.

    The fighting games took a dip with the release of Super Smash Bros. in '99, but went back up again for a bit, with a return to some retro style games in the last 5 years or so.
  • CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Der Millionendorf- Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    Koreish wrote:
    I like how strategy is completely level.

    That one was a tough one to figure out, but I finally had to admit that strategy and tactics games have always been about the same level. The only reason that they are as high as they are is that Fire Emblem games keep coming out, which raise the average.
  • Options
    edited Jul 2010
    Well-written. There are still some "Nintendo hard" games coming out in backlash to this trend (Demon's Souls, new Ninja Gaiden games), but it's definitely a trend, resulting in things like the latest Prince of Persia.

    I wonder if it's because gamers have grown up, and on average we have way less time and patience to learn games and get really good at them?
  • Options
    edited Jul 2010
    The threat of loss does indeed sweeten success. Ask anyone who has ever done high level raiding. If it was impossible to fail, taking down that giant dragon wouldn't be nearly as awesome. In fact... it wouldn't be awesome at all.

    The way things are heading, soon players won't "die" at all.

    Here's another way to look at it: if dying sucks, and it's not fun, don't do it.

    Pretty simple.
  • BandrikBandrik Elkhart, IN Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    A fantastic read, CB! Taking a more psychological look at gaming and the whole punishment/reward system that goes into game design was very thought-provoking. Awesome job. :D
  • WinfreyWinfrey waddafuh Missouri Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    In my opinion for most genres the developers can make the game as difficult as the want but please please PLEASE allow the player to save/load the game when they want to. You can make a game difficult to accomplish or require a lot of skill and still cut down on the frustration level.

    This is how I beat Call of Duty and its expansion on Veteran without raging to the world in a final blaze of glory.

    Also, Bioshock got a patch that let you remove the respawn chambers if you wanted to. Thus restoring a penalty to dying in the game.
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Watch Slut, Mumble Hivemind Drone Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited Jul 2010
    This is a great article. +More like this.
  • Options
    edited Jul 2010
    Save game features are essential, and removing them just makes long games pointlessly 'grindy' and take up way too much of your life if you 'have' to quit for even a few moments
    personally I like the idea of 'death' or having a continual reward for no deaths, like higher chances to get an item / titles / bonus levels
    a few examples are batman: aa, where the easy mode is just so pointless that any even remotely intelligent person will beat it within a long evening gaming session, but on hard it suddenly becomes an intense game that you HAVE to learn the game mechanics or die, repeatedly, and get nowhere and beating it is far more rewarding because you know you did something to earn it, but on the other end of the spectrum is racing games with 'flash backwards' buttons, which completely eliminates any need to learn the tracks, making an easy win that throws you into harder content that the player cant handle because they haven't learned the basics properly
    point is, failure needs to be punished, or people slack and fail more..
    a good challenge is key, and that's also one thing I blame for computer games sales going down to piracy more and more often, because they don't provide enough incentives to buy them and people want to 'try them out'
  • Options
    Jon
    edited Aug 2010
    Great article. It's a good jumping point for discussion.
    Just wanted to point out that Telltale games weren't actually the pioneers of punish-less adventure games. Lucasarts had the "no death, no stuck spots" philosophy down back in 1989 with "Indiana Jones and the Last Cruisade" (arguably even earlier) and all of their subsequent games including "Monkey Island", "Maniac Mansion: day of the tentacle" and "Grim Fandango" followed this philosophy. This was in direct opposition to the "die at every turn" Sierra style of gameplay, which was actually parodied a few times in the early Lucasarts games.
  • fatcatfatcat Mizzou Icrontian
    edited Aug 2010
    games should have hard, medium, easy. you have no choice but to do hard mode until you die X times at a boss, area, etc. then it allows the option to do the situation in medium mode. if you still suck, easy becomes availible. but once you are past that point it goes back to hard mode. the rewards|loot|money are based on which level you defeated whatever at

    no one wants to be stuck at a point in a game that cause them to quit playing it, but games are WAY too easy these days
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